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What is a Sublease?

By Felicia Dye
Updated May 17, 2024
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A person who rents property from a property owner or a management company is formally known as a lessee. The agreement between these two parties is commonly known as the lease agreement. A sublease is a similar agreement that a lessee makes with a third party. Such agreements can be made for various types of property. In many instances, however, such agreements are not allowed.

Jennifer may rent a condominium from Tidewater Real Estate. The terms of her contract may be binding for a year. Before her contract period is over, Jennifer may have to move to another city to care for an elderly parent. She may decide that since she cannot get out of her contract with Tidewater Real Estate she will rent her empty apartment to Rodney. This arrangement is known as subletting and the agreement between Jennifer and Rodney is a sublease.

In many instances, a sublease is formally prepared similar to a lease. It will outline the required behaviors and the limitations of each party. For example, the lease may require Rodney to pay bank charges for returned checks and it may prohibit Jennifer from entering the condominium during the period of the sublease. A properly written sublease should outline information such as dates during which the agreement is valid, the amount of rents and deposits, and the burden of responsibility in the event of damages or needed repairs.

Subletting is not restricted to residential property. Commercial real estate can be sublet. This may happen, for example, if a business has a lease for a retail space but decides to close or relocate. Rented items such as furniture and cars can also be sublet. In many instances, when property is rented to one party, the terms of the agreement expressly prohibit subleasing.

There are a number of reasons why subleases are commonly prohibited. To begin with, when an owner rents something to an individual, he often qualifies that individual in some way. Third parties who are then given access to that property may not be qualified according to the owner's criteria.

Legal matters that may arise can also become very complicated when numerous parties are involved. This includes situations such as damages to the property or injuries that occur on or as a result of the property. In the event of non-payment, repossessing the property may be more difficult. This is especially true in the event of a leased vehicle, which the third party may have removed from the vicinity.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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